About Fertilizing and Mulching Raspberry Plants
Raspberry plants aren't difficult to grow, provided you've done the basic preparation necessary to make sure they have the right environment. The right fertilizer is just as essential as choosing the right location and the right type of soil. Mulch is an important tool in your raspberry garden to keep weeds from leaching needed nutrients and water from the soil. Spend some time preparing the ground and you'll be able to grow healthy plants with a high yield of raspberries.
The Right Location
Finding the right spot for your raspberry plants is as important as choosing the right fertilizer. You'll be preparing the soil up to a year before you plant, so you'll want to make sure you've chosen a good spot.
Raspberry plants need well-drained soil and do best in sandy, loamy soil. The spot you choose shouldn't remain soaked after a rain or have standing water. It must be a spot where there are no barriers to root growth, as raspberry roots can reach lengths of up to 4 feet. The spot should also be in full sun and well-ventilated while not windy. Don't plant raspberries anywhere near wild berry bushes, or anywhere that eggplant, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes have been grow in the previous 4 years to avoid common berry viruses or root rot.
You should start preparing the soil for your raspberry plants a year before you intend to plant them. This can be done by working compost and peat moss into the soil and removing all weed growth. You should test the pH level of the soil so that it can be adjusted as necessary. It should be somewhere between 5.6 and 6.5. There are different nutrient products that you can purchase from your garden supply store to add to the soil in order to raise or lower the pH level as needed.
After you've planted, you can mulch your raspberry plants to inhibit weed growth. Weeds pull moisture and nutrients away from the soil and your plants.
Mulch does increase the risk of wintertime damage to your plants because it delays the plants going dormant in the fall. If you tend to have very cold temperatures early in the wintertime or very brutal winters, you may opt not to mulch at all and instead manually remove weed sprouts as you see them.
Otherwise, straw, bark, pine needles or even rotting leaves can be used as mulch around the base of the plants.
A nitrogen fertilizer like a 10-10-10 fertilizer needs to be applied when the plants start to bloom and then after the first fruit harvest. Raspberry plants may not fruit the first year but fertilizer should be applied twice as if they had once after planting and once late in the season with 5 pounds per 100 feet at each fertilization as a good rule.